This study provides preliminary evidence that NO production could be a general attribute of algae. Anabaena doliolum was found to be a better NO producer than Scenedesmus and Synechoccocus. Experiments conducted with inhibitors of photosynthesis (DCMU), ATP synthesis (DCCD), and the uncoupler (2,4-DNP) and its analog arsenate clearly revealed that inhibition of nitrite assimilation through the blockage of nitrite reductase (NiR) is primarily responsible for NO emission. A linear relationship between nitrite concentration in the culture medium and NO in the exhaust gas supports the view that accumulation of nitrite is responsible for NO formation. A failure of Scenedesmus, grown in the medium substituted with W for Mo, to produce either NO/NO-2 in light or a 'light-off' peak, and a resumption of these activities upon the addition of Mo proved beyond doubt that a functional nitrate reductase (NR) is necessary for the production of nitrite and NO by algae grown on nitrate as the nitrogen source. Moreover, the appearance of a NO peak immediately after nitrite supplementation under dark conditions in W-substituted cultures with or without glucose ruled out an enzymatic role of NR in NO emission.